Study Guide

Crank Family

By Ellen Hopkins

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She was right. And I still hadn't forgiven her. Maybe he wasn't perfect. But he was still my dad. (The Screaming.5)

You might call Kristina's loyalty to her dad misplaced—after all, her mom is the one who has always been there for her, while her dad bowed out early in her life and has shown no interest in her for years. Nonetheless, she wants the chance to spend time with him. It's also possible that some of Kristina's anger toward her mom propels her to rebel against her by wanting to see him.

I didn't understand the terminology of words like infidelity. Nor the implications of my father's sundry addictions. I only knew my wicked mother took us far away, kept us far apart. (Of Course, When I Was Little.1-3)

There's a lot more to why Kristina's parents broke up than she was able to understand at the time of the divorce, and it's possible that she never had the situation fully explained to her. As a result, her trip to Albuquerque is what gives her clear evidence of her dad's numerous issues and the reasons why the marriage ended.

Jake was a late addition, one the workout queen accepted and loved despite killer stretch marks and sure-to-sag-even-more boobs. As for Dad, well, truth be told, his love of drugs surpassed his love of family. (Okay, Over the Last Few Years.2-4)

While Kristina's dad's drug use clearly played a major role in the downfall of his marriage, it's pretty clear that both he and Kristina's mom have badly misplaced priorities. Is it possible that the two of them combined were just too selfish to be married?

I needed to go home, because somewhere deep down, I needed my mommy. And all that made me really need a line. (Lince Floated.3-6)

When it comes down to it, don't we all need our parents when the chips are down? It's funny how being with her dad alters Kristina's perspective, letting her glimpse what life must have been like for her mother all those years ago.

Instead, we returned to small talk, which is probably all we'll ever manage, all we'll ever get to, if we get to anything at all.

We couldn't have spent more than two hours, total, within three weeks tied up in trying to talk to each other.

Inter-family communication must be an acquired skill. (Instead We Returned to Small Talk.1-3)

It's funny how Kristina's dad fights tooth and nail in court to get his daughter out to visit him, but when she's actually there, he doesn't seem to really care. They're supposed to be reconnecting, but based on this passage, that pretty much never happens. Maybe the whole point of her dad getting Kristina out there was to have one up on her mom.

I considered my suitcase, sitting empty and closed on the floor.

Empty and closed like Dad, not quite hopeless, but not ready to be filled.

Empty and closed like Mom, writing a novel to create the excitement lacking in her own little life.

Empty and closed like my sister, genetically locked in a maelstrom of meaningless apologies. (I Considered That.1-4)

One major factor that drives Kristina to use drugs is that she comes from a family where nobody says anything—she describes each of them as "empty and closed" here, which is pretty rough. With communication so seriously lacking in this family, how can we expect Kristina to be open about her struggles?

You come home, and everyone talks at once and everyone asks questions, but no one waits for the answers.

Instead they talk about themselves, what they've been up to, what they're going to do next, as if you're a photo on the wall. (Homecomings Are Strange.1-2)

Just to recap, in this scene Kristina gets off the plane after having been in New Mexico for three weeks, only to have her family basically ignore her. The resentment in this passage is totally obvious.

I wanted to talk. Needed to. But how could I possibly talk to her? She was my mom. I know I'm your mom and not always easy to talk to. But I'm here for you […] Big girls don't cry, especially in front of their mommies. But a cloudburst threatened. (Mom Knocked on My Door.4-6)

When you're seventeen, there's nothing easy about talking to Mom about your feelings, especially when Mom is as distant as Kristina's is. It is, however, easy to understand the conflict Kristina feels around wanting to tell her primary caregiver what's going on while not entirely trusting her with the information.

I started for my inner sanctum. Paused. "I mean, look at you and me. On the surface, we both seem so normal!"

Her face contorted, emphasizing every wrinkle. "Take a peek inside our family album. Like what's in there?" (Leveled.5-6)

Oh, burn… On some level, Kristina's mom has to know that the family has major problems that they like to bury rather than deal with. Clearly, Kristina hits a nerve with this remark.

I watch my mom with my son, loving him, as she must have loved me. She's patient when he cries. She paces him to sleep. (Happy Endings.2)

Kristina's super hard on her mom for most of this book, and it's true that Marie botches a lot of stuff in terms of figuring out the truth behind what's happening with her daughter. Still, the ease of stepping into her role as Hunter's grandmother shows her capacity to be a loving, compassionate person. So maybe Kristina doesn't give her the benefit of the doubt, too.

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